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Recruited by Police and Thrown into Danger, Young Informants are Drug War’s Latest Victims

Amy Goodman
Democracy Now! / Video Interview
Published: Wednesday 20 February 2013
Sarah Stillman details how police broker deals with young, untrained informants to perform high-risk operations with few legal protections in exchange for leniency—and sometimes fatal results.

New Yorker staff writer Sarah Stillman has just been awarded a George Polk Award for her article, "The Throwaways," which investigates law enforcement's unregulated use of young confidential informants in drug cases. Stillman details how police broker deals with young, untrained informants to perform high-risk operations with few legal protections in exchange for leniency -- and sometimes fatal results. Stillman joins us to discuss her eight-month investigation, which has spurred calls for reform in several states.

We're also joined by Margie Weiss, the mother of Rachel Hoffman. After police found drugs in her apartment, Hoffman agreed to assist Florida officers in a major undercover deal involving meeting two convicted felons alone to buy two-and-a-half ounces of cocaine, 1,500 Ecstasy pills, and a semi-automatic handgun. Within days, her body was found shot five times with the gun that the police had sent her to buy. We also speak with Alexandra Natapoff, professor of Law at Loyola Law School and author of "Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice."

GUESTS:

Sarah Stillman, staff writer for The New Yorker who has just won a George Polk Award for magazine reporting. Her article, “The Throwaways,” was the result of an eight-month investigation into law enforcement’s unregulated use of young confidential informants in drug cases. It led to calls for reform in four states that were highlighted in the article.

Margie Weiss, mother of Rachel Hoffman. In 2008, police enlisted then 23-year-old Rachel as a confidential informant. She was murdered in a botched undercover operation.

Alexandra Natapoff, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and author of "Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice."



Author pic
ABOUT Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

You guys just don't get it.

You guys just don't get it. There is no such thing as a "war on drugs". The United States government is waging overt, literal war on the American people and it's not keeping drugs away from anyone. Drugs are just the excuse they use to justify it. Prohibition simply maintains the pricing structure of the black market while destroying our country from the inside out. The black market is providing funding for terrorists, both overseas and within our own government and they continue to hide behind our flag and blame the consumers for it. What a sweet deal. The only addiction we need to fear as a nation is the addiction to money and power that has corrupted out government and turned it against us.

End the "War on Drugs" ..

End the "War on Drugs" ..

And thus ..

End the "War on Drugs Underage Recruitment by Cops AND Drug Dealers" problem ..

At least with the youngest

At least with the youngest addicts, the war should be on the addiction, not the juvenile addict. If caught, pull them out of their environment where they are exposed to drugs and put them into a residential twelve step (or other type with good recovery) program where they have to work and become productive citizens.

So what sort of regulation

So what sort of regulation should we have, exactly?
I don't know which planet Prof Natapoff has been living on, but almost all criminal investigations rely on snitches, unless the criminal is caught in the act in front of the police. Besides the business of drug dealing is permeated with substantial risks in any event. Countless times drug deals go bad and people get themselves killed with no police involvement whatsoever. Now we have to regulate the use of undercover snitches when they decide to work off a serious drug charge by assisting authorities? Why don't we try regulating them when they conduct their trade without police involvement? Sheese!

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